We recently completed a project in Scandinavia involving the playback of
over 1,800 standard audio cassettes.  These tapes had been stored in very
poor conditions and had suffered from poor handling.

Of the 1,800 tapes, 13% would not play back in as-is condition.  Of these
13%, 10% represented primarily mechanical problems that were easily (or not
so easily) fixed.  Of the 3% left over, all but 1/2 of 1% were restored
sufficiently for playback and the remaining tapes might have been restored
with additional effort (which the client chose to forego).

I'm not a great advocate of standard audio tapes for preservation purposes
but being able to play back all but 1/2 of 1% after 20 plus years of abuse
is a pretty good track record.

Peter Brothers

> -----Original Message-----
> From: Association for Recorded Sound Discussion List
> [mailto:[log in to unmask]]On Behalf Of Art Shifrin
> Sent: Thursday, January 29, 2004 11:22 AM
> To: [log in to unmask]
> Subject: [ARSCLIST] audio cassettes' hardiness
> Henry's, and others' accounts of these old things still playing are very
> strong arguments in favor of my advocacy of 1/8" cassettes as analog
> backups.
> Those whose shells have deteriorated are easily transferred into
> new shells.
> Of course the format's not as "hot" as 15 ips or 30 ips 1/4" or
> 1/2" full or
> two track, but the idea of having a backup to digital tapes  & disks that
> most likely will be playable X decades from now is a comforting,
> reassuring
> thought.  Yes, it'd be wonderful if the date on a disk or tape or
> hard drive
> containing a best possible resolution digital clone of a master
> be readable.
> But if they were to have failed, wouldn't it be precious that at least, a
> state of the art analog cassette could be played instead of highly
> corrupted, drop out ridden or even worse, unplayable digital versions?
> As the format nopw exists, recording in only one direction would
> be prudent.
> But as per my original post, full track & two track would be preferable.
> And, such special format cassettes would be substantially compatible with
> conventional players.
> Shiffy